As you would and expect Behemoth 2023 are a different beast from young pups with attitude, ability and angst of 27 years ago. All of the attitude, ability and angst is still firmly in place but is now surrounded by a more complete aural and visual experience than in the mid 1990’s. Like all great bands they have progressed and developed their sound, songwriting and theatrics to become one of the most complete bands in music.
Listening back to Grom, not something I have done for a while, it is clear to see what talent the triumvirate of terror then had, albeit only leader Nergal remains from that line-up, as drummer Baal Ravenlock and bassist Les moved on, the former in the mid 1990’s and Les a couple of years later. The modern incarnation sees Inferno keeping the beat with the rhythmic slaps provided by Orion, both of whom have now been in the band for twenty years or more solidifying a line-up that went through many changes in their formative years but have benefitted hugely from the stable trio that now exists.
The original has been reviewed so many times that it is not really worth adding commentary to the original eight tracks other than to say it is essential listening for any lover of the second wave of Scandinavian black metal.
In terms of bonus material there is plenty for you to get excited about across the physical formats which include bonus audio and booklets containing exclusive archival content. Rare bonus material contains cover versions, rehearsals, and live tracks.
Of the extra material that yours truly has access to then the two rehearsals tracks of “Rising Proudly Towards The Sky” and “Dragon’s Lair” both from 1995 are interesting and rare opportunities to hear the band working through ideas that are yet to be fully realised. Both are instrumental and differs in a number of ways from what would appear on the album. The quality of the recordings is obviously fairly low by modern standards but nevertheless provide a good addition. Likewise the sound quality is lower than one would like on two live tracks taken from a show on the Pagan Triumph Tour in the Netherlands in 1996. That said, it is still good to hear “The Dark Forest” and “Spellcraft and Heathendom” live from that era. There is a third live track from the more recent 2021 XXX Years ov Blasphemy tour in their native Poland. A blistering performance of “Lasy Pomorza” is a great reminder of the band’s power.
It is the three previously tough to track down cover versions that might steal some of the glory. A grinding cover of Mayhem’s “Freezing Moon” paves the way for Destruction’s teutonic “Total Desaster” is delivered with black metal swagger and a roaring ferocity that almost makes it feel like a classic black metal original. The final cover is in tribute to one of their homeland’s most celebrated artists Kat. Their take on “Ostatni Tabor” is again more in-keeping with the Nordic underworld rather than the heavy metal original.
Grom is rightly regarded as an extremely strong early album from the band and
Since its release it is considered to be one of the band’s most diverse albums in the band’s career featuring keyboards, female vocals and an exciting mix of Nordic blackened thrash that has since become the band’s trademark. This re-issue certainly shows that the music has stood the test of time and is worthy of a sonic boost.
Donnie’s Rating: 9/10
Grom is out now in various formats including Digital, 2 CD media book, and a gatefold 2 LP via Metal Blade Records.
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